Course Design Rubric Standards

Current Edition: Seventh Edition

Description: A set of eight General Standards and 44 Specific Review Standards used to evaluate the design of online and hybrid courses. Annotations explain the applications of the Standards and their inter-relationships. The Rubric has a scoring system used by the Review Team to determine whether a course meets Standards. Essential Standards (3-point Specific Review Standards) must be met during the review and an overall score of 85% of the points possible are required for a course to attain QM certification.

Membership Requirements: Higher Ed Basic, Full, Consortium or System. Individual HE members or those with a Supplemental option that includes the Higher Ed Rubric can also access this Rubric.

Who uses this Rubric?

The Higher Ed Rubric is intended for use with courses that are delivered fully online synchronously or asynchronously and for hybrid and Hyflex and multi-modal courses as described in the Course Format Chart. Course Designers use the Rubric to aid in the creation of courses designed to meet Standards from the outset. The Rubric is also used to assess the level to which a course meets Standards and highlight areas for improvement. A score of 85% (with Essential Standards being met) qualifies a course to receive a QM Certification for quality course design*. QM Members using this Rubric include:

  • Individual Faculty and Instructional Designers
  • Four-year Accredited Colleges and Universities
  • Community Colleges

Key Features

Unique to the QM Rubric is the concept of Alignment. This occurs when critical course components — Learning Objectives (Competencies) (2.1, 2.2), Assessment and Measurement (3.1), Instructional Materials (4.1), Learning Activities and Learner Interaction (5.1), and Course Technology (6.1) — work together to ensure students achieve desired learning outcomes. Specific Review Standards included in Alignment are indicated in the Rubric Annotations.

The eight General Standards of this Rubric are:

  1. Course Overview and Introduction
  2. Learning Objectives (Competencies)
  3. Assessment and Measurement
  4. Instructional Materials
  5. Learning Activities and Learner Interaction
  6. Course Technology
  7. Learner Support
  8. Accessibility and Usability*

Development Notes

The initial Standards and subsequent modifications have been based on the insights of teams of experienced online instructors and instructional designers and on the best practices standards promulgated by accrediting bodies and national and international organizations. QM regularly undertakes a revision process to update the QM Higher Education Rubric that includes input from the QM higher education community, research about QM Course Reviews and a review of the current research literature. It involves focused input from a Rubric Committee composed of higher education faculty and instructional staff with extensive experience using the QM Higher Education Rubric. The Rubric Committee is advised by a Legacy Committee composed of previous Rubric Committee members. 

In addition, the QM Standards have been examined for consistency with the conclusions of the educational research literature regarding factors that improve student learning and retention rates, as well as activities that increase learning and engagement.

* Meeting QM Specific Review Standards regarding accessibility does not guarantee or imply that the specific accessibility regulations of any country are met.